Northeast Fiber Arts Center

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Should I eat it or knit with it?

The latest fiber...sugar viscose

This is the latest plant based fiber to make it's way into commercial knitting yarns and given my overcharged sweet tooth, I wasn't sure I wanted the sugar cane plant diverted from it's original use! But as it turns out, since the yarn comes from a different part of the plant, it seems that we can knit our sugar and eat it too!

The sugar we eat is extracted from the stalk of the sugar cane plant as the fibrous stalks are rolled between very heavy drums. The extracted fluid is then cleaned to remove dirt & soil, boiled, evaporated and crystallized, and finally refined for our consumption. The fibrous plant that is left behind after the stalks are rolled is called the "bagasse". Some of the "bagasse" can then be burned to generate energy to run the sugar extraction process and the rest is used to produce yarn thru a process similar to that used to produce rayon, bamboo, viscose and tencel (other fibers that also come from plant material).

In this process, referred to as the viscose process, the fibrous "bagasse" material is shredded, broken down with eco-friendly chemicals (at least that is what the manufacturers of the sugar cane yarn I stock say they use), and then while in a liquid form, shot at very high pressure thru very small holes (picure the head of your garden hose, but much finer). This long strand of fiber is then solidified and spun into yarn.

Ruca, the sugar cane yarn we stock, features a lovely drape, soft hand and lustrous sheen.